#Artistresidency Nicolas Daubanes at Bòlit
During his stay at Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona, Nicolas Daubanes (1983, Perpignan) gave form to three proposals, which are based on his previous lines of research linked to prisons and penitentiary centres. This artist’s work deals with the question of living in a restrictive situation and how to react or offer solutions to it. A great deal of his time was spent developing his work in the search for aesthetic, conceptual and intellectual issues in prison environments by means of different activities such as interventions, ateliers, residencies or workshops, for example.
In Girona, he researched three previous elements of his work to develop them more in-depth in the city. The first of these ideas is the issue of food, a notion that he had already explored in France. However, he quickly realised that the prison systems in France and Spain differed greatly. For instance, in France, prisoners are allowed to cook in the centre’s facilities, while in Spain, they are not allowed to handle food.
In parallel, he further developed a previous study that began in Montluc, a French prison in Lyon. This centre had been a military fort used in World War II. Daubanes reproduced its floor tiles in multiples silkscreens. At some point, the artist realised that the floor of Montluc Prison was the same as the one installed in “S-21”, a secret interrogation, torture and execution centre created by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, where at least 12.000 people were tortured and killed during the 1970’s. Both prisons had been paved by the same French company and both were places intended for torture, one in the 1940’s and the other 30 years later. Daubanes installed a video that enters into dialogue with this issue during his open studio.
The artist also continued a series of drawings that reproduces, by zooming in, parts of the imaginary prisons of Piranesi. Above all, these are fragments in which we distinguish characters, barely visible spectators arranged at different heights who seem to be witnessing the torture of the prisoners. These ‘spectators’ in Piranesi indicate directions, limit the composition of the drawings. Daubanes also adds characters and interprets this architecture of confinement almost autobiographically, he himself being a viewer of the prisons. They are not strictly copies of Piranesi’s prints, but a reference the artist takes to apply to his own work.
Finally, recovering the idea of food and alimentation, Daubanes took a documentary entitled “Imaginary feasts” as reference in order to propose an activity that would articulate his open studio event. It is a documentary directed by Anne Georget in 2015 about the recipes written by prisoners in concentration camps. In the Nazi camps, the Gulag and Japanese war camps, deportees wrote hundreds of recipes that were copied in small notebooks by starving human beings of all origins. They become objects of survival and a testimony of resistance.
Previously, during his residency period within The Spur, Nicolas Daubanes decided to reproduce one of these imaginary recipes in a prison in Marseille. In the case of his residence in Girona, he proposed to a group of residents of the day centre of the city to visit the exhibitions at Bòlit and participate in a culinary workshop in the same space. It was not only an invitation to carry out an activity addressed to a group of people living in a restrictive situation, but through his gesture the artist moves his proposal into the field of reintegration. In other words, by obtaining an official authorization to carry out this activity, Daubanes talks about the relationship between reintegration and art, as well as its importance and possibilities. During his open studio, the artist and the residents of the day centre reproduced one of the recipes of “Festins imaginaires” and shared ideas and concepts about Nicolas Daubanes’ work.